Sports Media Digest- March 16, 2012

Solid Ratings for First Day of NCAA Tourney-  CBS and Turner Sports report that the ratings for the first day of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship was a combined 5.3, 6% higher than 2011.  The combined audience was 7.7 million viewers, up 4% from a year ago.  Yesterday’s action was the most-viewed Thursday of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship since 1991, when the tournament expanded to four telecast windows.

ESPN has Sunday Night NBA Double Header-  ESPN will provide NBA fans with a double header this Sunday Night.  It all kicks-off at 7:00p.m. ET as the Miami Heat host the Orlando Magic.  Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy have the call.  The nightcap at 9:30p.m. will feature the Portland Trailblazers at the Oklahoma City Thunder with Terry Gannon and Bruce Bowen at the mic.

TNT Has its Own NBA Tin Bill on Monday-  TNT will provide a Monday night NBA double header on March 19th.  The opener gets underway at 8:00p.m. with the Chicago Bulls at the Orlando Magic. Matt Devlin will have the call with Chris Webber and David Aldridge. The finale will feature the Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets at 10:30p.m. ET with Dick Stockton, Mike Fratello and Cheryl Miller (reporter).

Suns/Heat Next Weeks’ NBA TV Fan Night Game-  Fans have selected the Phoenix Suns at the Miami Heat as this Tuesday’s NBA TV Fan Night game of the week.  Tip-off is at 7:30p.m.  Here are the match-ups fans can vote on to air on March 27th: the Cleveland Cavaliers @ Philadelphia 76ers, the Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies, the Atlanta Hawks @ Milwaukee Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns, or the Los Angles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors.

Terry Francona Makes ESPN Game Coverage Debut Monday-  Coming-up this Monday, the new ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew will call its first game.  Dan Shulman will be joined by Orel Hershiser and newcomer Terry Francona for pre-season coverage of the Tigers at the Phillies beginning at 1:00p.m. ET on ESPN.

Real Sports Returns Tuesday to HBO-  HBO Sports will produce its next Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel this Tuesday, March 20th at 10:00p.m. ET.  Here are this month’s segments: A profile of New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist; behind the scenes with the high-wire Wallenda Family; the story of the Seattle Mariners’ Steve Delabar; and a look at the 2001 and 2011 tragedies at Oklahoma State University.

Gymnastics This Weekend on NBC-  NBC Sports will have coverage this weekend of the Kellogg’s Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships.  Coverage begins Saturday, March 18, at 1:00p.m. ET on NBC.